Paul Staley: Holiday Ins and Outs

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Paul Staley has this Perspective on the ins and outs, literally, of this holiday season.

The holidays we observe in this last quarter of the year are, to some extent, about scrambling up the relationship between the outside and the inside.

Halloween kicks things off by letting what is usually on the inside go outside instead. Trick or treating means kids are out at an hour when they would normally be inside, and costumes are a display of something that might otherwise stay hidden: an alter ego, or alternate identity, or a personal creative spark.

On Thanksgiving we flip it in the opposite direction. Now the external comes inside. A large array of food is prepared and over the course of a few hours we set about putting it inside our bodies. If our home and table can accommodate them, we invite in friends and colleagues to share in the bounty.

Christmas continues in the same vein. And, on top of that, we drag trees inside our houses and tell our children that their presents were delivered by a man who broke into our house by coming down something that was built to expel smoke.

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But this year, of course, is going to be different. Many of the activities we’ve always done inside have been forced out into our backyards and sidewalks. For the better part of this year our lives have been about keeping what is outside out and what is inside in. After all, that is what wearing a mask is all about.

And so, this holiday season, we need to flip things around. The upcoming holidays that were about bringing the outside in need to reverse direction. Now, more than ever, things that we may have kept to ourselves need to be shared. This year no good wish or kind word should go unexpressed. If there is something you can spare —money, time, clothing, food—that needs to come out as well.

Which brings us to New Years and the end of the holidays. The convention is that we ring out the old and ring in the new. No need to change that. We all want to get out of this year and into one that offers more hope and promise.

With a Perspective, I’m Paul Staley.

Paul Staley lives in San Francisco.